The Stoking of America goes on! Brek Shea to Stoke City?

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What a massive bit of news this will be, assuming all comes to fruition: Brek Shea to Stoke City FC.

ESPN analyst Taylor Twellman had the news Friday afternoon on Twitter, reporting that the FC Dallas winger may soon be on his way to England’s Premier League club, pending a lengthy physical.

source:

Reported sale price for the rangy 22-year-old attacker: $3.5 million, which looks a little low but surely reflects the fact that he’s coming off a poor season, not to mention coming off surgery. A year ago, coming off that breakthrough 2011 season, the price for Shea would surely have doubled, at least.

Where the story goes from here:

  • The physical that Shea must pass is no small matter. He was undone by injuries last year ranging from a frustrating turf toe that bothered Shea for much of 2012 to off-season foot surgery, which prevented the Texan from joining Jurgen Klinsmann’s ongoing January camp in Southern California. Stoke City had better poke and prod with all due diligence.
  • While $3.5 million doesn’t get close to an MLS mark for sell price, it does give FC Dallas some decent money to play with in the market. Technical director Fernando Clavijo, you are on the clock!
  • While getting into England probably isn’t a bad thing, Stoke is a something of a different place. They play a lot of defense – and then attack almost as afterthought. It’s a helluva place for someone like Goeff Cameron, the U.S. international defender who has become a fixture in Tony Pulis’ lineup. For a winger? Well … we’ll see.
  • On the other hand, Stoke is become to this decade what Fulham was to the last decade: the go-to for U.S. fans who might be looking for a second (or even first) team to support. Maurice Edu may not have worked out for the time being, but he remains Potters’ property. If this one comes to pass …

Report: Newcastle activates $12m release clause of ex-Arsenal youth

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Reports out of Turkey say Newcastle United have finally struck the transfer market for a new No. 10.

[ MORE: West Ham adds Diop ]

Aksam reports that Rafa Benitez got the Magpies hierarchy to activate a near $12 million release clause for Besiktas midfielder Oguzhan Ozyakup.

The 25-year-old was part of Arsenal’s youth set-up until 2012, making two League Cup appearances in 2011-12 before moving to Besiktas.

Dutch-born Ozyakup is 35-times capped with a goal for Turkey, twice captaining the Crescent-Stars.

Ozyakup lost playing time to Talisca this season, and registered just four assists in 24 appearances. In 219 appearances for Besiktas, he’s posted 27 goals with 50 assists.

Like the move for Newcastle?

Lukaku pens inspiring post on hard-scrabble upbringing

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Manchester United and Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku has an inspiring and emotional post in The Players’ Tribune which tugs at the heart strings and explains his competitive fire.

[ MORE: West Ham adds Diop ]

Lukaku talks about how his family’s poverty caused him to become a fierce competitor in the hopes of meeting his dreams head-on and providing for his family.

The Belgian, 25, scored twice in his side’s 3-0 World Cup-opening win over Panama earlier this week, and is now far removed from his youth, but he tells his story as if it lives fresh in his mind.

From The Players’ Tribune:

There were even times when my mum had to “borrow” bread from the bakery down the street. The bakers knew me and my little brother, so they’d let her take a loaf of bread on Monday and pay them back on Friday.

Lukaku also talks about racism in football, his debut for Anderlecht, and that aforementioned competitive drive. It’s 100 percent worth the read.

West Ham signs club record center back from Toulouse

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West Ham has reportedly set a club record with its latest signing under new manager Manuel Pellegrini.

Issa Diop is the player, the 21-year-old Toulouse captain and center back costing the Irons around $29 million.

[ MORE: Arsenal signs Leno ]

Diop scored three goals with an assist and eight yellow cards in 31 Ligue 1 matches this season, giving the young defender 95 apps, six goals, three assists, and 23 yellows since debuting with the senior team at 18.

Capped by France at every level below the senior team, Diop’s 2.2 interceptions per game ranked sixth in Ligue 1.

Toulose finished 18th in Ligue 1, but won its promotion/relegation playoff to stay in the French top flight.

From WHUFC.com:

“I am very happy to sign for such a historic, English club, and I hope to show my best here. I am a very ambitious player and West Ham is a very ambitious club, as we’ve seen with the appointment of the new coach. I hope to help the team win lots of games and make the fans happy.”

Layla’s Occasionally Unbiased Football Show: Episode 3

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In the third episode of Layla’s Occasionally Unbiased Football Show, England pulls out a massive win while VAR finds its way into the World Cup spotlight.

[ LIVE: World Cup scores ] 

There will be plenty more to come over the next few weeks, with the show coming via the Men In Blazers.

Click play on the video above to watch the first episode in full.